The Aussies Return After Pandemic Delays

In a normal year, the Aussies promote school spirit at football and basketball games, Freshman Orientation, Homecoming, and numerous other Austin College events. They also host an annual spring show.
This year looks different. The Aussies had no annual spring production last year, nor did they appear at games or Homecoming events last fall because of the pandemic and the university’s COVID-19 safety protocols and policies, which prevented the group from rehearsing for a complete year. Last semester, the Aussies were unable to rehearse because they weren’t sure how to safely do so.
Now, with cases seemingly falling and vaccines rising, the Aussies are putting on their dance shoes for their first performance in a year!
This month, I caught a glimpse into one of their spring show rehearsals and chatted with the members, who are expressing gratitude and excitement that this semester has allowed them to safely prepare their annual show .

Allie Straeck and Sylvia Sit are this semester’s co-captains. “We are really excited to back,” says Allie. “We’re excited to be dancing again. It’s definitely something we’ve missed. COVID has made it really hard not only for our team but also dance studios I follow on Instagram. They’ve been implementing a lot of COVID-safe policies to allow them to dance again, which is really great and has been an inspiration to us to try to get back to dancing again. And we are so grateful that Austin College has allowed us this little room to dance in.”
“This little room” sits in the middle of campus on the first floor of the Morris Center (formerly the Moody Science Center). The space, though it may not provide the ideal setting for dance practice, has mirrors that cover the back wall, and it provides privacy for them to rehearse five days a week for almost two hours each day.
Alex Fry, a senior, feels a “sense of normalcy” since returning to rehearsals. “I was watching old performances on our YouTube channel, and I almost forget. I’ll look up videos without masks . . . we’ve been in this for so long that I feel this is all I know, and I feel bad for kids who are born in this era particularly. But it’s good to have some type of normalcy even if we have to do it during COVID. It’s better to do it than to not have a chance to do it at all, and this is my last year, so I’m trying to make the best of it.”

Julia Brumbaugh and Jadyn Sanzone joined the Aussies this spring, both having discovered its existence on the AC mobile app. “I’ve been in it for two weeks,” says Julia, who did musical theater before college. “I think it’s a lot of fun . . . I end up leaving practice happier than when I came.” Despite feeling a bit nervous to perform on stage, practicing nearly two hours every weekday helps build her confidence.
Jadyn admits she hadn’t planned on joining a dance organization on campus until she followed the group on the AC app, where Aussie members encouraged her to try out. Like Julia, she has previous performing experience, having danced in middle school and high school.
However, dance experience is not required to join! For inquiries, email Allie Straeck at Students who try out and make the team should come ready to learn, work hard, have fun, and build lasting friendships!
L to r: Julia Brumbaugh (JR.), Jadyn Sanzone (FR.), Allie Straeck (JR.), and Sylvia Sit (JR.)

Make sure to save the date for their upcoming shows on April 30 and May 1 in the Sally and Jim Nation Theatre, which will feature dances they had planned to perform last semester and also new ones, and stay up-to-date by following them on Instagram at @AussieDanceTeam!

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